Last week I was lucky enough to demo a bike that for me was complete perfection.
It ticked every box I want in a bike: It climbed bob free with no discernible pedal kickback as fast as my 100mm cross country full suspension bike on the road and smooth trails, blasted singletrack as well, and weighed roughly the same on the scales. But also, with 140mm of controlled, active suspension it descends like it’s on rails, encouraging you to take the most bonkers of trail lines and overcome your fear of the scariest obstacles.
What’s more, the sublime traction took me up technical climbs I’ve always spun my wheels on when on any other bike I’ve ridden. The truly amazing thing, though, is it did this all with a broken propedal lever stuck in the open position – a sign of a truly great bike in my opinion, especially one with 140mm of travel.
It’s a bike I could happily enter in enduro events as well as ride every day. It’s that notorious holy grail – the one bike to do it all. What’s more the frame design sets its own standard, as opposed to following the hydroformed swoopy crowd, with subtly kinked clean lines and distinctive hockey stick like seat stays. Not only that, the paint job is bold and beautiful, not dissimilar to other top euro brands such as BMC.
It also has neat little touches, from the whimsical all directional ‘sortie’ label on the top tube to the simply practical and efficient sag indicator on the seat tube. It’s also damn easy to clean, a must in the UK.
So what is it? It’s a lovely French supermodel called the Lapierre Zesty 914. I borrowed a demo from my local bike shop courtesy of the UK importer, Hotlines. And, I was genuinely sad to return it as I have never spent so much time grinning from ear to ear out on the trail.
Lapierre are new this year to the UK market, though they’re huge in their native France. Some of the mountain bikes are designed with input from none other than downhill legend Nico Vouilloz. The bikes have that certain French je ne sais quoi about them. There’s nothing overly flash about the Zesty, it’s all in the subtlety. Sat on the saddle you’re immediately aware of how precisely balanced you are between the wheels, and with the first pedal stroke you know you’re on the perfect all mountain and singletrack blasting ride – as it’s stiff, yet forgiving.
The 914 is the blingest in the range, but at each price point Lapierre use the same frame, and spec the bikes as well as their competition. Dealers are also in heaven over the bikes, as the only building needed is to attach the pedals. Once fitted, they’re as ready to go as the famous French prêt a porter clothes.
Will it be perfect for you? Only you can answer that. But I recommend you find out on a demo day, or call your local Lapierre dealer to see if you can borrow one to take out on your local trails. For me, at least, the French revolution is definitely here to stay.